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Elon Musk's Humanoid Bots Are Headed Our Way

Prototype for the 'Tesla Bot' is due out 'sometime next year,' says CEO
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2021 11:04 AM CDT
Elon Musk's Humanoid Bots Are Headed Our Way
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is seen at a media event near Berlin on Aug. 13, 2021.   (Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP)

(Newser) – Will Elon Musk soon have his own Westworld-style theme park? Things probably won't get that far, but you can't blame the thought from arising after an announcement this week from the Tesla CEO. That reveal, made at Thursday's AI Day in California, per CNBC: The company is working on the "Tesla Bot," a machine designed to take care of the drudgery that humans don't feel like doing. This "general purpose, bi-pedal, humanoid robot" will be "capable of performing tasks that are unsafe, repetitive, or boring," according to the AI section on the Tesla site. Musk said that a prototype of the 5-foot-8, 125-pound bot, which will have a screen for a face, will be built "sometime next year," reports the Verge.

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The robot, known internally as "Optimus," is based on the same technology behind Tesla's self-driving vehicles, down to the Autopilot cameras inserted into the bot's head. Musk said the device will be able to run 5mph, transport 45 pounds, and lift up to 150 pounds. The whole point of it, Musk elaborated, is to take over the tasks that we wish we could delegate. "It should be able to, you know, 'please go to the store and get me the following groceries,' that kind of thing," he said, reports CNBC. In other words, "I think essentially in the future, physical work will be a choice," he added.

As for how this news jibes with Musk's known fear of artificial intelligence, he says not to worry too much. Although the Tesla Bot is "intended to be friendly," it's being constructed so that people can run away from it, and most likely overpower it, he said. And anyway, "it probably won't work" at first, he added, per CNBC. TechCrunch notes that Tesla isn't the only company to boast humanoid robots as part of its portfolio—Toyota, GM, and Honda all have their own versions—but that we may be getting excited about this one "just because it's Tesla." Or, alternatively, because of the "potentially really powerful vision-based supercomputer that will be powering it." (Read more Elon Musk stories.)

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